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Is Philip Rivers... Cooked?

10 throws to show you why Philip Rivers is playing poorly

NFL: Miami Dolphins at San Diego Chargers Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Lost in the Chargers getting their first victory last Sunday was the fact that Philip Rivers played poorly. We are running out of excuses for our beloved quarterback so I raised the question yesterday, is he done?

It’s been a rollercoaster season for Rivers. His lows have been alarmingly low. But he’s made the plays that you expect a should-be Hall of Famer to make as well. So when I ask the question and when you see the video of throws below, know that I’m holding him to a gold standard. Against the Giants, his deep touchdown throw to Hunter Henry was an absolute dime. He had a play where he slid in the pocket, avoided the rush, and stood in there and threw a strike to Keenan Allen to convert a big 3rd down throw. There are still plays he makes and you’re nodding like “yeah, that’s my quarterback.” The problem is these plays are becoming fewer and farther between. However, the issue is Rivers is missing the gimme throws more than ever. His anticipation and accuracy are suffering the most this year.

I’ll use some throws from the Giants game as examples but as you know, this has been an issue all year. I’m not dumb, I know that you’re not going to agree with all of these. I don’t expect you to. Just bringing the anticipation/accuracy issues to the light. Here’s the video and we’ll walk through each of the throws.

The first play is less about the throw and anticipation and more about Rivers just recognizing the defense. Something that he has been amazing at in the past. They are leaking Austin Ekler down the sideline on a wheel route and they get the exact look that they want. The corner chases Henry on the post and the linebacker is caught on Ekeler but nowhere near in position. Some have asked where the free safety was located and if that’s why Rivers didn’t throw it. Here’s where he was.

Not even Earl Thomas is getting there. I get that there is pressure coming hot. Again, this goes back to Rivers anticipating. As soon as he sees the corner chase, he should chuck it deep and let Ekeler run under the ball for a would-be big gain. Rivers was looking that direction but once he avoided the initial pressure and reset, his eyes came back to the middle.

I wonder if he felt like he just couldn’t make the throw under duress. He ended up throwing it away and a play later the team ended up punting. This is a throw I felt like Rivers can and has made. His touch along the sidelines has always been a strength. Someone mentioned that since the Kansas City game he is trying to be overly cautious. That’s not a good thing. You still have to hit and attempt the explosive plays when they are presented.

Throw 2: Jittery in the pocket

The next play Rivers is seeing ghosts in the pocket again and scrambles for whatever reason. You’ll see from the end zone angle all he needs to do is slide left, reset, and stand tall. This is something Tom Brady specializes in. Obnoxious patience in the pocket. There isn’t a threat at all here.

He could flick it to Gordon. The closest person to Gordon is the linebacker 7 yards away. But the home run is Hunter Henry down the field. To me, it’s a layup throw. You mean to tell me one of the 20 greatest quarterbacks ever cannot make this throw? That the safety is going to intercept it here? That Rivers can’t throw it away from the safety? Get outta here.

Reset. Throw the ball towards the “T” or “S” if you’re worried about the safety(you shouldn’t be) and go celebrate as soon as you let it go. I think you’re overestimating how easy of a play this is to make if Rivers simply gathers himself to throw it. Also the ability of a safety to make a play on this. Rivers ends up running for 8 yards and the end result of the drive is a touchdown but the process isn’t good here.

Throw 3: Anticipation & ghosts

Another play and it’s Rivers drifting away from phantom pressure again. It’s maddening. The play call is perfect against the coverage. The Chargers are in trips and the outside guy runs deep and takes the corner out of the play opening up a vacancy on the out route for Allen. Rivers doesn’t give this play a chance because he bails in the pocket. For what? As he begins to drive Allen comes open.

It appears there’s a defender in front of Allen but he’s in no man's land and is starting to come forward once Benjamin leaves. It is Allen on a linebacker so if he just lofts it towards the sideline this is a conversion. Instead, a punt.

Throw 4: Losing his touch?

You know things are going south when Rivers starts missing the throws he could make in his sleep. Could Allen have made the catch? Yes. Should he have? Probably. But we aren’t talking about the result we are focusing on the process. Which is the throw and where it’s located. Rivers isn’t throwing it into any sort of tight window. Allen should catch this in stride.

Instead, he doesn’t, and the Chargers fail to convert another 3rd down. There was no resistance in the pocket. Rivers just misses. Allen needs to bail him out here but that doesn’t excuse the throw.

Throws 5-8: Missed layups

I want to think this was miscommunication in the worst way but I don’t believe it was because Rivers threw the ball 3 steps after Allen cut inside. It’s just a flat out miss.

This is the staple route for the Chargers. A simple in cut. Rivers throws the ball a few yards behind him. Again, well after he cut as much as I want to give him the benefit of the doubt.

As for the next throw, people have screamed at me that Benjamin has to catch this.

Benjamin is on the verge of laying out for the ball. Would’ve been a hell of a catch. Should’ve been an easy 6. Both defenders went with the out route and the Chargers couldn’t capitalize on the mistake. They settle for a field goal. This one isn’t on Benjamin to me and I’m usually in the quarterback's corner.

The next throw is a perfectly called slip screen. The Chargers run a ton of screens near the end zone. Allen faked like he was blocking and slips out over the middle. Even a diving Allen couldn’t get there.

These are touchdowns. Easy layups he should be hitting and Rivers is not only missing but missing to a point where the receivers are hardly getting a hand on it.

Here’s a bonus throw; towards the end of the half the Chargers had a free play and Allen was running along the back of the end zone. Instead of throwing it out in front of him where nobody is, Rivers misses high.

Both of these drives ended in field goals when they could’ve easily resulted in touchdowns. If the Chargers are going to have any sort of hope in turning their season around, Rivers has got to hit these throws.

Throw 9: The interception

This one speaks for itself. He just didn’t take into account that the safety was there. Easy play. Poor read.

Throw 10: Yet another gimme

These timing routes toward the sideline are what keeps the offense ahead of the chains. Rivers is usually one of the best quarterbacks using play-action. Again, he just misses.

Henry has to dive for it. It’s not particularly a tough throw as the ball is on the hash to the short-side of the field. It’s as simple as Rivers just missing. Would have been another tough catch for the receiver. Instead of 1st & 10, it’s 2nd and long.

Hopefully last Sunday was the lowest of lows for Rivers. He just wasn’t good. I don’t expect him to be perfect but some of these throws you & I could make. Hopefully, we never have to talk about Rivers in this manner again.